For the first time in a very long time, I decided to set up the telescope and try to image the supernova in the galaxy M82 before it fades into invisibility. It took me a while to remember how to set things up, and this was the first time I was using a mac for astrophotography, so all the software was new to me. Even so, I managed to get everything working, though not particularly well. As I was warming up, I did a very quick process and the image is the result. I am pleased that you can actually see the supernova. It is approximately magnitude 11.7 right now – fading away. The explosion of a supernova is almost beyond imagination. It usually outshines the whole of the rest of the galaxy at the peak. The star has exploded, which is why a supernova does not last long in the sky. I took some other images while I was out there and will process them soon.
This was a remarkable month, weather-wise. Mild and wet. According to the weather station I run at work, the average air temperature was 6.5C (that compares with 3C last year) and there were no days with an air frost (compared with 10 last year). The coldest was 0.2C on 11th and the warmest 12.5C on 25th. At the same time there was 112mm rain falling on 21 days of the month with 14.5mm on 5th. Wind peaked at 85kph on St Valentine’s Day.
The internet has quite a lot of discussion about the meteor I saw. There is a good analysis at the UK Meteor monitoring network. There’s a great photo taken from Bristol here. It seems to have fallen above the English Channel and so was probably about 50 miles away from me. It also seems to have been brighter than I thought: just showing how light polluted this town has become.
I saw a very bright meteor this evening, at about 6:30pm. The sky was clear and it was dark, but with just a ghost of light left in the sky. At first, I thought I was seeing a firework, but I soon realised what it must be.
It was significantly brighter than Jupiter, but certainly did not light the sky or cast a shadow, and it appeared as a thin streak, coming down almost vertically and growing quickly in apparent size. It is hard to judge how large it became – still small but definitely an object and leaving sparks behind it. The whole thing lasted less than a second and just disappeared – no explosion or final flare up though it was becoming brighter until then. I was standing at the Brighton road, Vicarage Lane junction in Horley and the meteor seemed to be coming down over the building nearby so to my south-west, with the end of the trail slightly to the left (east) of the beginning. When I first noticed, it was high – perhaps 80 degrees or so in altitude and it was still at least 60 degrees when it disappeared. I suspect this all means it was relatively close, but impossible to tell. The map gives some idea of location: